Vol. 23:1/2 (1996) ► pp.73–88
Johann Joachim Becher (1635–1682), a little known opponent of Comenius’ Theory of Language and Language Learning
Concerning the methods of language teaching, Johann Joachim Becher (1635–1682), one of the encyclopedic philosophers of the 17th century, stood in opposition to Jan Amos Comenius (1592–1670), the pedagogue of Europewide influence. He published Methodus didactica (1668) and Novum organon (1672), the latter being a universal nomenclator as they were popular in the 17th century. This nomenclator is organised according to Aristotelian categories which Becher saw expressed in word-classes. It assembles groups of synonyms in Latin and German under headwords which were taken as the simple notions, i.e., the building-blocks, of the human mind. Becher demanded didactic principles to be developed out of these linguistic assumptions. Whereas Comenius shaped his teaching methods according to the situational learning abilities of the individual, Becher regarded them as being dominated by the structures of language seen as structures of the mind, thus foreshadowing Cartesian thinking.